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Head of development Weber - falling below EU CO2 limits: Mercedes is pushing eco-innovations

Head of Development Weber - EU CO2 limits fall below
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Mr. Weber, how do you see European CO2 plan by 2020?
Weber: U ur green offensive has been rolling for several years - the exact timetable we presented in 2007 at the IAA. Now this offensive is starting to pay off. In 2009 we reduced our fleet average by 13 grams to 160 grams of CO2 /kilometer. That puts us ahead of Audi, even though this brand sells a lot more small cars than we do. And we're hot on the heels of BMW. We are much better than the public believes.

By 2012, you want to achieve less than 140 grams. That's 20 grams less in two years. How do you want to do that?
Weber: We use all levers to achieve this: on the vehicle itself and on the entire drive train. And we benefit from eco-innovations for which there will be an extra bonus due to the positive effect in real consumption. This ACEA calculation takes into account what is not taken into account in the certification consumption: solar roof, switching displays, thermal management. All consumption-reducing innovations that we are working on. We believe that in the medium term we can work up an additional 10 grams.

Are solar roofs on cars really realistic, despite the small area?

Weber: Today, solar roofs are still too expensive in relation to the savings effects. But in the future, corresponding CO2 credits may be important. Not to mention the positive image effect and the real customer benefit, for example, a stand air conditioning.

What other levers are you moving to achieve the 140 gram target?
Weber : We are working on weight, aerodynamics, energy management and the aggregates. We are replacing the five-speed gearbox with a new, consumption-optimized seven-speed gearbox that will also be used in four-cylinder engines in the future. In the E-Class, for example, we achieve a sensationally low value of 129 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That's only 4.9 liters! Who would have thought we could do that a few years ago? The sum of all measures makes the difference. And we think of something new every day.

And what value are you aiming for in 2020?
Weber: According to the C02 target of 120 grams for 2012 will continue. The total European fleet should be around 95 grams CO2 /km in 2020. This will push vehicles with combustion engines to the limit of feasibility. That's whywe are working on hybrids with and without plug-in. But physics has its limits. Zero grams of CO2 emissions will only be possible with purely electric drives. And a certain proportion of our fleet will be in this way. We are already preparing for this today.

What do you invest in such environmental activities every year?
Weber: The research and development budget of the Daimler Group was at
4.2 billion euros and thus at a similarly high level as in the previous year. We invest around half of this in green technologies. Our entire company is now CO2-driven. This is now paying off.

Will that be enough this year - or will you even invest more money in environmentally friendly measures - and maybe even increase your entire R&D budget?
Weber: Our research and development budget is at a very high level - also when compared to the competition. Of course, the budget could be increased further, because there are enough ideas and work. But we are taking a more sustainable approach here: We are relying on synergy potential through consistent modularization, e.g. with our group-wide E-Drive modular system. In addition, we are open to strategic partnerships wherever it makes sense. We are convinced that this is the more effective and sustainable way.

When will all Mercedes internal combustion engines be equipped with start-stop?
Weber: We started the rollout last year. As of today, start-stop is still limited to gasoline engines with manual transmission. Due to the high proportion of automobiles at Mercedes, that would only be a small part of all vehicles. That is why we will soon be combining our start-stop function with diesel engines and, from autumn, also with automatic transmissions. So by the end of next year, our ECO start-stop will have been rolled out across all core series.

We are also bringing our new, completely redesigned seven-speed automatic transmission, which alone saves up to five grams more - thanks to ECO, for example Shift program and further developed torque converter lock-up clutch.

How do you advance the fuel cell issue?
Weber: We have agreed with other manufacturers to abort To bring more than one hundred thousand electric vehicles with fuel cell drives onto the market worldwide in 2015. That is why there must now be movement in the infrastructure. EnBW, Linde, OMV, Shell, Total and Vattenfall are working on a nationwide development of a hydrogen infrastructure in Germany. There are similar considerations in Japan. Americans have currently scaled down their activities sharply due to the crisis. Nevertheless, I am sure that there will be movement again there too. Last year we started a small series production of the B-Classstarted with fuel cell. There will also be an electric vehicle with fuel cells in the successor model.

The next major innovation in the portfolio is the C-Class, which will be launched in 2014. Then also with a hybrid?
Weber: Like all our models, the C-Class will also be designed for a hybrid option. We will have particularly economical and clean drives available in all cars.

Are you going to expand the C-Class model range?
Weber: A coupe will come for sure. We are working on an architecture for rear-wheel drive vehicles so that we can generate attractive variants faster and more flexibly from a modular system. This opens up huge additional sales potential - and at the same time avoids previous restrictions, for example with regard to right-hand drive or all-wheel drive capability. So the question is no longer whether we can bring variants - but whether we want to. Let yourself be surprised.

What cost savings will this result?
Weber: For competitive reasons, we do not want to mention them. But they are considerable. Based on this new architectural philosophy and our modular components, we are also much faster and with top quality on the market.

That means you don't really need any cooperation with BMW?
Weber: We have a very productive process with BMW. For example, when purchasing non-brand-differentiating parts, the collaboration is going extremely well with correspondingly positive effects. But we don't want to go as far as various wax machine manufacturers, whose products sometimes only differ in name plates. That must not happen with the 3 Series and the C-Class.

But the VW Group also manages to draw large synergies between, for example, the VW Golf and Audi A3 and still differentiate successfully.
Weber: The two models are not as closely related as one might think. And Skoda and VW not only bring advantages, but also substitution effects. Such effects can perhaps be managed within the company, in two independent groups it is far more difficult. Nevertheless, with BMW we go far beyond simple components. For example, we also envision developing joint seating structures based on relatively similar architecture in the future and buying together. We see great potential here without diluting the respective brand.

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